I have lived in the greater Lewiston-Auburn area most of my life. My family owned a restaurant in Lisbon for 44 years.

After our family business closed in 2012, I was hired at Bates. The college was good to me, and I was appreciative. I still am, but I have realized not everyone here is treated as well, or paid fairly.

I see undertrained staff and unqualified supervisors. I know coworkers who have been demoted and forced to take pay cuts to keep their jobs; some who took the job for health insurance, but cannot afford their kid’s daycare.

Last year, Bates stopped paying into our retirement, without consulting us. Although the college eventually reinstated it, that was an eye-opener. By forming our union, we will ensure Bates cannot exclude us from decisions that affect us and our families.

Our union will also strengthen the Lewiston-Auburn community. Our community will benefit from higher wages and better working conditions we will win through our union, because we Bates employees are residents’ neighbors and friends.

I love working at Bates, and my coworkers in dining. I like playing a small part in students’ lives, as they prepare for their futures.

Through our union we can protect what we love about Bates, and have a say in our future in an uncertain world. Educators and staff joining together is a powerful example for workers in Maine and America.

I am proud to be part of that.

Joe Graziano, Sabattus

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